Mar 24 2017

The battle of the two Bikavérs

Published by at 12:28 am under Hungarian Wine

Where has been the first Bikavér produced? In Eger or Szekszárd?

Most people reckon Szekszárd, as Garay János – he was born in Szekszárd – mentioned it in Háry János, the Hungarian folk opera: ”pour it into the glass and you will see a miracle! The colour is like the blood of the bull (bikavér)”, but the story of Eger has more action and imagination. Anyway, the point is: both regions produce Bikavér, blends based on Hungarian varieties with certain difference, based on their soil, climate and given product specification.

Yet what they both share is the passion towards the brand, Bikavér and with plenty of changes behind I do hope, that the question on “style” will soon become rock solid.

Ahead of the Bikavér tasting some of the leading winemakers were talking about the history of the brand, as well as the present and future of the wine.

Vilmos Thummerer, winemaker of Eger, pointed out, that red winemaking in Eger exists pretty much from the 15th century. The pontiffs or high priests were regularly visiting Italy; red varieties from Burgundy were introduced by the Cistercian order. New varieties came all over Hungary after the phylloxera, and early-late ripening varieties, such as oportó (Portugieser) and Cabernet Sauvignon were harvested together.

The freshness in the wines of Eger adds to the style, elegance and they fit well with the gastronomy of Hungary, pointed out Tamás Pók. The question however still remains elegance and fruit vs. masculinity and power. In the past the Bordeaux varieties were all too often over-used, then came Syrah, which is frost sensitive. The elders always said, if you do not have Kadarka in the blend, you are not suppose to call in Bikavér.

The dawn came, when finally producers were recognizing the backbone should be Kékfrankos, supplemented by Kadarka. Kékfrankos is the most planted Hungarian variety and overall 50% of the worlds plantings are in Hungary, it has such a tremendous potential. Versatile lone entertainer, as well as fantastic blending partner. It plays from centre to guard, on all positions.

On the other hand Szekszárd is smaller and more homogeneous compared to Eger. They have also several distinctive single vineyards, which are noted throughout the region, as well as three different Bikavérs: Classicus, Superior, and Grand Superior. While in Szekszárd after the generic Bikavér, comes the Prémium Bikavér, which must undergo at least 12 months barrique ageing, and as always, these wines are blend.

The question for the future is, where the Bikavér should be positioned. Entry category or higher up? Will the people understand differences or the various levels, which are put on the label? Should be the basic Bikavér made by a couple of big wineries only to guarantee consistency perhaps even consider once again a co-operative?

And there are much more questions to be raised…however in the meantime let´s see the big picture:

Tasted 03/03/2017 (note there are all “Bikavér” wines)

Sebestyén Iván Völgyi 2012 (Szekszárd)
Ruby colour, spice, black fruit, refreshing with a hint of perfume on the nose. Round, juicy black fruit and spice with a herbal touch. Fairly round, smooth, well-knit tannins, accompanied by a dash of chocolate. Drinks well, round, the higher alcohol still feels balanced.

Drink now – 2020

Németh János Sygno 2013 (Szekszárd)
Ruby colour. Slightly floral touch of greenish herbs, basil, bay leaf. The palate shares refreshing, juicy red fruit with a certain simplicity. Smooth and moderate finish.

Drink now

Garai 2015 (Szekszárd)
Black fruit with some fruity notes dash of soft spiciness. The palate kicks in much more intense with plenty of grip of black fruit, cassis, damson followed by fine spiciness. Easy to drink.

Drink now – 2018

Fritz 2013 (Szekszárd)

Ruby colour. Intense fruit on the nose. Spicy, great depth of juicy red- and blackberry, herbal spice. Bold with more than a hint of sweetness. Ripe, gallant fruit, fairly good depth, smooth, ripe texture and a plenty of fruit, that finish fairly long.

Drink now – 2020

Tarjányi Superior 2012 (Eger)

 Ruby colour. Spicy herbal note underlined by a dash of veggie character. Yet it shows a certain elegance and effortless character. There are Turán and Blauburger in the blend as well. Round, soft, smooth palate, black fruit, vibrant spiciness, basil, cayenne pepper. The fruit was picked at the Pajdos vineyard.

Drink now – 2021

Zichy 2013 (Szekszárd)
Ruby colour. Soft red fruit, delicate nose with a dash of plum and raspberry. Not complicated, rather easy going. Similar on the palate, juicy fresh spiciness, clove and liquorice, followed by light fruitiness.

Drink now

Takler Reserve 2013 (Szekszárd)
Deep ruby colour. Intense meaty spice, rich nose, the oak is dominating the picture, accompanied by supple sweet notes. The herbal mid palate attacks, smooth, yet graceful with the depth of black fruit, cinnamon, vanilla and some ginger. Long, concentrated finish, followed by a hint of sweet touch towards the end.

Drink now – 2022

Gál Lajos Pajados Grand Superior 2012 (Eger)
Ruby colour with garnet rim. Spicy herbs notes of tomato leaf and basil, underlined by some fine red fruit. Fresh juicy round on the palate with some spicy character. A hint of nutty touch, followed by almond, Menoire kicks in with 5% into the blend.

Drink now – 2020

Schieber 2013 (Szekszárd)
Baranya-völgy vineyard
Deep ruby colour. Chunky, herbal, spicy, meaty notes. Rich, bold, warm fruit. Fine and refreshing at the same time, caraway, basil and freshness with a fine plumy touch and juicy finish.

Drink now

Kovács Nimród Rhapsody 2013 (Eger)
Ruby colour. Spicy note, sweet core with a hint of pencil shaving, graphite character. The palate points to overt, juicy, fresh, creamy cherry, plum notes and some sweet spiciness. Supple. Good finish.

Drink now – 2022

Bodri Faluhely 2013 (Szekszárd)
Ruby colour. Slightly muted nose. The good palate feels spicy and round, no edges, yet some herbal attack on the moderate mid palate. Smooth, easy finish.

Drink now

Thummerer Nagy Eged Grand Superior 2012 (Eger)
Deep ruby colour. Spicy, rich herbal note. A touch of marmite and wild character, multi-layered. Good weight, dark berried, plum, herbal, spicy note. Full-bodied, fairly intensive tannin grip, fine notes and long finish with a certain smooth character.

Drink now – 2023

Tóth Ferenc Superior 2013 (Eger)
Ruby colour. Spicy note, wild cherry, plum, blueberry on the nose. Vibrant, fresh, juicy, spicy, plum notes with a herbal touch. Round and elegant, moderate mid palate and medium finish.

Drink now – 2020

Mészáros Pál 2015 (Szekszárd)
Purple colour. Very youthful, fresh, herbal plum notes, accompanied by cherry. It is all about fruit. Velvet, buoyant, fruity character. Bright and smooth, low tannin, soft feeling with a slightly “cooked” touch.

Drink now

St Andrea Hangács Grand Superior 2013 (Eger)
Ruby colour. Muted nose. The palate is much more expressive. Rich and ripe fruit with good mid palate attack, freshness and fine tannin structure, spicy and fruit driven finish with a hint of stony character.

Drink now – 2022

Gróf Buttler Nagy Eged Superior 2011 (Eger)

Vibrant ruby colour. Rich and intense nose, warm feeling. Herbal, overt spicy herbs, capsicum, bell pepper with some cassis note. Juicy, vibrant, fine fruit, pungent, elegant, ripe layers of spice and herbs, long focus. Slightly drying on the finish, strong hold of tannins, yet still balanced with high alcohol.

Drink now – 2021

Vida 2013 (Szekszárd)
Light ruby colour. Soft, delicate, effortless, clean nose of red fruit with a touch of spice. Lovely red fruit on palate, fairly juicy with medium body, elegant and bright red fruit, plum, cherry. Nice and friendly.

Drink now – 2018

Tüske 2013 (Szekszárd)
Simple herbal note of red fruit, delicate and light. Smooth touch, ripe finish with good tannin grip. Juicy note, round, herbal, dried cherry character, but with not too high alcohol in the end.

Drink now

Besenyei Superior 2013 (Eger)
Deep ruby colour. Simple nose, red plum, black cherry, herbal note. Sweet spice, ripe flavours, ample, fruit intensity with  good finish. Bit lacking of finesse and elegance, but a good all-rounder with smooth finish.

Drink now – 2018

Eszterbauer Tüke 2013 (Szekszárd)
Medium colour. Light nose, delicate, soft, clean, bright, juicy red fruit with a hint of spice. Elegant smooth on the palate, bright, juicy. Fine fruit, vibrant and delicate finish.

Drink now

Gál Tibor Titi 2015 (Eger)
Deep ruby colour. Wild cherry with a hint of feminine touch, bright red fruit, accompanied by a shiny layer and a touch of marmalade. Floral note, light body, it is about fruit and delicacy with a certain light finish.

Drink now

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